The gospel was written by cycle tourists


It occurred to me today that the gospel writers might indeed have been cycle tourist. I can just picture them riding around the Galilean planes sporting colourful Ortlieb panniers, discussing what is the best gearing ratio for the long distance set up.

No seriously they must have been touring bikers otherwise they would have not been consistently using the third day metaphor for resurrection. Indeed this is the third day of riding, the one that comes after the terrible second day. And precise like a swiss watch it was a day of cycling bliss. On the third day the body truly resurrected.

Let me just show you the beverage distribution matrix as explained in the last post.

I am all packed from last night, I am sharing the room with an Argentinian motorcyclist from Cordoba that talks a lot (good), but is quite fast (bad). On the whole though he’s a good guy and we, and the hostel owner Sebastian have a good laugh at all the crazy things people do on bikes and motorbikes. As I said I’m packed as I do not want to disturb him and I’m out for breakfast and to leave pretty sharp. After the ritual picture for the Facebook site (HostelArgentinoRioGrandwebsite), Sebastian says bye bye and I go.

Route 3,386,185 – powered by


The route takes me west first, almost into the wind, and then south-east, with the wind in my tail.

Crossing the Rio Grande and admiring the impermanence of things, namely the bridge.
And they have the Austro-Zelandese fire signs too.

I keep getting speeded up by the wind for a bunch of miles, fast and with little effort. It is not difficult to feel really powerful when the wind is behind you, but this adds to the third day feeling.

In roughly three hours of uninterrupted cycling  I cover half of the distance to Tolhuin the place I had, on bad wind expectation, thought I would have reached by tomorrow night. It looks like I will make it there tonight instead. On this stretch I also meet a bunch of cyclists going the other way. One chap from the Czech Republic in particular is completely downed by the wind and asks me for water. I feel you mate!

Trees start apearing, even though they are dead ones.
The sky is immense.

I stop for some food in the first place that offers a bit of a view and tuck into my bread and cured meat (not salami) store.

After that I move along a bit to a more sheltered verge and lie down for a bit. While I’m sitting there I see a motorbike stopping and, there he is, my Cordoban friend that stops for a little chat and a picture. He’s off to Ushuaia for the day and then he’ll revert to Rio Grande for the night.

After he leaves I lay down on the grassy verge listening to music and staring at the sky. I don’t know why but it’s hard to convey how this is a cool thing. I suspect it’s because laying down at the side of the A5 in Nuneaton might be what springs in the mind of the readers. Believe me, here it’s better.

Lunch time view
My biker friend
Not the only one having lunch
I guess I disturbed him.

After lunch I had another thirty or so miles before getting to Tolhuin and the scenery slowly started to change, with more vegetation and ondulation.

Nothing like a bit of self promotion
You cannot see it from this but there is actually snow on the mountains in the far.
The first few stars I could not quite understand but then I realised what they were for. And there were a remarkably high number of them.

After some seven hours of cycling I get to Tolhuin and quickly identify the the “Casa del Ciclista” where I am staying for two nights.

The “Casa del Ciclista” is a south american thing. It’s not really a network, it’s not something organised, it’s just places where cyclists can go and camp out, generally for free. This one in Tolhuin has been recomended to me bay at least six distinct people.

Does you town have an entrance like this?
Impressive, unfortunatelly this and the panetteria are the only two impressive things in town.

As i got into the place I met Sebastian, a German cycle tourist that got here more or less one year ago and made his home here. I do share the room with him, he’s super friendly and, as most people are, dead interested in my choice of propulsion. He’s running a little research project, taking down names ages and pictures of all the cyclists that go through the “Casa del Ciclista”.

After getting settled I move to the main building and I meet one of the highlights of the trip so far, the happy family.

Meeting the happy family doing homework.

Sebastien, Alberta, Angela and Anna are a family from near Vittorio Veneto in Italy that have decided to take a rather different path for the next 18 months, they will cycle the length of South America.

They have a special interest in the slow food movement and all that is sustainable, together with the ambition of raising their daughters in a way that will teach them something more that they could learn in a school. To say that I admire them is an understatement and if you want to know more about them the site is:

I am normally very critical of my country of origin, but then I meet people like these, or indeed the merry bunch from Alessandria (of whom more in future posts) and I get reminded of why, perhaps, there is greatness in the Italian nation after all.

Buena onda in my room.
My bed down there.
And Seb’s on the other side

I spend the evening talking to Sebastien and Alberta as well as discovering that I’m carrying a wound in my rear wheel. I thought that the short length of the spokes would have been an insurance against breakages but it turns out I was wrong. Three have got busted and they are all more or less on the same side.

This means that first thing in the morning the communal areas becomes once again, I’ve been told two days before there was a big maintenance day, a workshop. I have to disassemble the wheel take off spokes from different sides of the wheel and fill the gap left by the broken spokes.

Spokes crisis
This might just be the cleverest thing. Petard to scare stray dogs.
Happy family leaves
And they are gone.

It is also time to say goodbye, the happy family it’s on its way north towards Rio Grande and the journey which will deliver them to Colombia in 18 months time.

They were great fun and inspirational and I hope to see them again, either on their travels or back in Italy. The Panaderia has truly been a place to remember.

Fab Panaderia and Casa del ciclista.

With not much desire to do anything else I go for a walk around town, just to say I did it rather than anything else. It’s ok, a bit fronteer like, what I imagine a town in Alaska would look like. I don’t know why but I’m getting a bit sick of this incessant reference to the war and the claims down here, but I am.

A shop Matilla’s style.
Closed, but nice flowers
Tarn would love it lupins are everywhere
Kirchnerism strong in the south
Still, quite creative
A connection between Tolhuin and an Argentinian national hero.

The stay at the bakery has a last twist in the tale. At night while I am chatting away with some Brazilian cyclists, a bunch of Italians come in and ask me if I’m the Scottish Italian with the Brompton. We get chatting and, as we are all going the same direction we decide to join up for mañana.

Mañana Yo me pregunto cuándo va a ser
Mañana Yo me pregunto cuándo va llegar
Mañana Yo me pregunto cuándo, cuándo va a ser

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